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Int J Food Microbiol. 2008 Apr 30;123(3):228-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2008.02.003. Epub 2008 Feb 15.

Inhibitory effects of Satureja hortensis L. essential oil on growth and aflatoxin production by Aspergillus parasiticus.

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Department of Mycology, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran 13164, Iran.


In an effort to screen the essential oils of some Iranian medicinal plants for novel aflatoxin (AF) inhibitors, Satureja hortensis L. was found as a potent inhibitor of aflatoxins B1 (AFB1) and G1(AFG1) production by Aspergillus parasiticus NRRL 2999. Fungal growth was also inhibited in a dose-dependent manner. Separation of the plant inhibitory substance(s) was achieved using initial fractionation of its effective part (leaf essential oil; LEO) by silica gel column chromatography and further separation by reverse phase-high performance liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC). These substances were finally identified as carvacrol and thymol, based on the interpretation of 1H and 13C NMR spectra. Microbioassay (MBA) on cell culture microplates contained potato-dextrose broth (PDB) medium (4 days at 28 degrees C) and subsequent analysis of cultures with HPLC technique revealed that both carvacrol and thymol were able to effectively inhibit fungal growth, AFB1 and AFG1 production in a dose-dependent manner at all two-fold concentrations from 0.041 to 1.32 mM. The IC50 values for growth inhibition were calculated as 0.79 and 0.86 mM for carvacrol and thymol, while for AFB1 and AFG1, it was reported as 0.50 and 0.06 mM for carvacrol and 0.69 and 0.55 mM for thymol. The results obtained in this study clearly show a new biological activity for S. hortensis L. as strong inhibition of aflatoxin production by A. parasiticus. Carvacrol and thymol, the effective constituents of S. hortensis L., may be useful to control aflatoxin contamination of susceptible crops in the field.

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